Europa Analysis: Liverpool's death by football, Spurs' changing gameplan and the unlucky 5-1 losers
Last night's action saw an exciting debut from an intelligent campaigner whose analytical probings have already won fans across the world and awards aplenty. Yep, Stats Zone made its Europa League debut, thanks to Western Union. And as ever, users were quick to share their findings.
Perhaps the headline story was Liverpool's 3-2 reverse at home to Udinese. @footballkray contrasted the passes of Udinese and Liverpool, which "show how dominant Liverpool were in possession". True indeed Ã¢ÂÂ Liverpool completed 691 of 757 (91%) to Udinese's mere 173 of 241 (72%) Ã¢ÂÂ but it will only be scant consolation for Brendan RodgersÃ¢ÂÂ¦
At least Rodgers' anointed midfielder Joe Allen stood out. The diminutive Welshman completed 127 (of 135) passes, almost as many as the visitors put together, and consequently dominates the Player Influence screen (which shows a player's average position and denotes involvement by increasing the size of the player's name). But with Udinese snatching victory from a first-half deficit, it lends a dramatic irony to the the half-time hashtag #deathbyfootball...
Less successful travelling Italians were Napoli, who got a 3-0 chasing at PSV. @cordobeh contrasted the two sides' attacking-third passes, which show how the visitors were pinned back and frequently reduced to longer balls.
Also cruising to a 3-0 win were Newcastle, against Bordeaux. @cordobeh compared Toon central midfielders Yohan Cabaye Ã¢ÂÂ busy at the sharp end, although none of his four shots (all from outside the box) hit the target Ã¢ÂÂ with Chiek Tiote, typically industrious in the engine room despite his early booking.
AEL Limassol can consider themselves somewhat unlucky to have been on the end of a 5-1 chasing at Marseille, especially after going one up. The Cypriots attempted and completed more passes (like Liverpool, then) but Marseille Ã¢ÂÂ conspicuously targeting Limassol's left-back position Ã¢ÂÂ roared back and two injury-time goals added the gloss.
Examining Tottenham's passing at Panathinaikos reveals that the Londoners seemed to be targeting the Greeks' right-back. Gareth Bale, stationed on Spurs' left for most of the game, received 35 passes to right-sider Aaron Lennon's 14 Ã¢ÂÂ and note that Lennon received five of those during his cameo on the left.
Analysing that further, we can see that Tottenham made 24 crosses from the left Ã¢ÂÂ indeed, what seem at first to be crosses from the right are actually overhit left-flank corners. But note how the vast majority of these were in the first half. Evidence of AVB changing a tactic that wasn't working, or of his team trailing off in the second half? That depends on your interpretation of the facts Stats Zone will happily pump out for youÃ¢ÂÂ¦
Stats Zone is a free-download app from FourFourTwo and Opta, updated LIVE in-play. The Europa League Stats Zone is brought to you in association with Western Union's PASS scheme, which turns every completed Europa League pass into a day's education for young people around the world.